Hawks take a risk but may finally have their point

Jeff Teague thinks he may be the best point guard in the draft. That'll work.

Jeff Teague thinks he's the best point guard in the draft.

A few days before the draft, Hawks general manager Rick Sund sat in a conference room down the hall from his office, beaming about the franchise’s present and future.

“I like where are right now,” he said. “We’re one of the youngest teams in the league and we have the 19th pick. That’s generally a player who has a bright future and can play for you right away, or he can fill in if somebody gets hurt.”

Remember those words when Jeff Teague comes to town. He needs to be somebody who can contribute. He needs to be somebody we remember, because Sund may have taken a slight risk when he drafted the Wake Forest point guard Thursday night, passing on Ohio State center B.J. Mullens.

“I feel like when you look back down the road, I’m going to be the best point guard taken in this draft,” Teague said.

When informed of that quote, Sund said, “He said that? Good. I hope he’s right.”

Teague doesn’t have to be that good. He doesn’t have to be Chris Paul good – another former Wake Forest point guard the Hawks passed on, the biggest in their blur of mistakes at point guard. He just has to be good enough so that the franchise isn’t haunted by passing on the 7-foot Mullens.

Some viewed Mullens as a project, and Teague certainly is the safer choice. But talented 7-footers don’t come around very often. Sund wouldn’t comment on Mullens directly, but he said, “We basically had our pecking order of who we would take. It was pretty much aligned with what we thought. We got who we wanted.”

NBA teams are allotted five minutes per pick in the first round.

But Sund said, “We turned the name into the league right away.”

The Hawks obviously believe Teague is a player. He’s 6-2, quick, excels in transition and averaged 19 points a game. And this might be the time to give the Hawks the benefit of the doubt. They are coming off a 47-win season and won their first playoff series in 10 years. They have pieces. Usually, drafts are when they fall to pieces. But two years ago they got Al Horford.

This is not an organization that generally celebrates draft days. It mourns them.

But this is how well things are going now. Two selections before the Hawks were scheduled to pick at 19th overall, Teague, North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson, UCLA point and shooting guard Jrue Holiday and Mullens were still on the board. Philadelphia took Holiday. Minnesota took Lawson at 18 (and traded him to Denver). The Hawks had good choices.

The last time the Hawks actually drafted an All-Star was Kevin Willis in 1984. It’s the longest such drought of any team in the NBA. It might be the longest drought of any team in professional sports. But when I called the Elias Sports Bureau for confirmation, I was told they would need days to research the stat. But put it this way: They’re in the argument.

The last 24 drafts have covered 76 players and 26 first rounders. But for every Al Horford, there have been five Cal Bowdlers. Or Ed Grays. Or Shelden Williams.

But they believe they have another piece now. We’ll find out soon enough.

76 comments Add your comment

jibby

June 25th, 2009
10:44 pm

who does Teague compare to in the NBA right now?

jibby

June 25th, 2009
10:44 pm

What are the chances of us grabbing Garett Siler with the 49th pick? Any chance he doesn’t get drafted and we sign him later?

Reality

June 25th, 2009
10:45 pm

It was a solid pick for their position in the draft.

Bangkapi Ajarn

June 25th, 2009
10:47 pm

What about future trades for a big? Heard any rumors? Seems to be a lot of trades coming dwn tonight.

Jeff Van Gundy

June 25th, 2009
10:51 pm

chemdawg

June 25th, 2009
10:54 pm

Do we still think Bibby is coming back?

cornfuzed

June 25th, 2009
11:00 pm

Could the Hawks not have moved up or traded for Ty Lawson? That guy will be a solid PG for years. I think Teague will be the next Acie Law.

hmmmm

June 25th, 2009
11:00 pm

What about getting Camby?

Jeff Schultz

June 25th, 2009
11:04 pm

Editorial moment: This guy announcing the picks now is a goof. Is Stern back in the hospitality suite?

Jibby — first question: don’t know. second question: don’t think so.

Reality — I agree that Teague’s a good player. And if he turns out to be a solid PG, Mullens will be forgotten. Plus, Mullens is a project and may end up not amounting to much.

Bangkapi — I think Bibby talks will determine a lot of what happens in July.

No, JVG. You’re late!

ChemDawg — Depends on financial demands … and also whether he’s upset about the Crawford deal. Will be interesting to see what kind of offers he gets from other organizations.

Kane337

June 25th, 2009
11:09 pm

I think it’s a solid pick for what was there at 19. I hope he becomes a stud. I’m glad Speedy and Acie are gone.

cornfuzed

June 25th, 2009
11:10 pm

Jeff- what do you think the trade and draft implications are for Josh Childress?

Bangkapi Ajarn

June 25th, 2009
11:11 pm

Thanks Jeff. There seems to be so many trades coming down (and a lot of cash considerations factoring in) that I was curious about draft night trades, but waiting for the unsettled free agent tsunami facing the hawks makes sense.

Jeff Schultz

June 25th, 2009
11:11 pm

Cornfused: I think there was a group of players Sund liked with a few picks to go before 19 — Lawson, Teague, Holiday, James Johnson. They obviously didn’t feel the need to trade up.

Kane337

June 25th, 2009
11:13 pm

Jeff, this guy has been announcing the second round for David Stern for a few years now. And yes he is a goof. It’s as if he’s looking for and anticipating some great reaction whenever he announces a trade.

Jeff Schultz

June 25th, 2009
11:14 pm

Comnfuzed — Not sure but I still don’t think Childress wants to come back to Hawks. I’m not the only one who thinks that. Sekou wrote extensively about this a couple of weeks ago. He may stun everybody and stay in Greece.

Bangkapi — Trades for cash basically means a team has cap issues and is trying to limit their luxury tax liabilities.

Kane337

June 25th, 2009
11:16 pm

I was disappointed when Ty Lawson came off the board. I thought he would have been a great fit for the Hawks. He was unstoppable in college. Without him North Carolina does not win the title or even come close to the final four.

Jeff Schultz

June 25th, 2009
11:16 pm

Kane337 — Oh yeah. He does have a great sense of drama, doesn’t he?

Bane Shattier

June 25th, 2009
11:19 pm

This draft was very underwhelming. Hawks don’t get Lawson, and not big trades for Atlanta.

Not even one for cash. How boring.

jibby

June 25th, 2009
11:24 pm

Any thoughts on how the 49th pick will play out?

cornfuzed

June 25th, 2009
11:25 pm

I hope I’m wrong, but I feel like the Hawks are going in the wrong direction unless they can bring back Bibby or get a more “pure” PG. I like the Crawford trade, but only if they have a true PG and Crawford is the 6th man. If he starts at PG or they start Teague, I see a lot of isolations and bad shots as the shot clock expires.

cornfuzed

June 25th, 2009
11:28 pm

Henk Norel? What about all these Europeans that nobody’s ever heard of being drafted in the 2nd round and they are ACTUALLY AT THE DRAFT? Why are they bothering to show up since they’re going to stay in Europe a while anyway?

Kane337

June 25th, 2009
11:29 pm

Jeff, what do you think of the Crawford trade?

Robert

June 25th, 2009
11:31 pm

Who the heck is that guy that we just drafted?

Jeff Schultz

June 25th, 2009
11:32 pm

Hawks take shooting guard Sergei Gladyr of Ukraine. .. And no, I’ve never seen him play.

Kane337

June 25th, 2009
11:33 pm

Typically the Euro guys are unheard of to us because we never see them play unless they are in the Olympics. Hope this guy is good.

Jeff Schultz

June 25th, 2009
11:37 pm

Gladyr played for MBC MYKOLAIV in Ukraine. Avg. 15.4 pts, 4.3 rebs and 2.4 assist in 29 minutes. He is only 19 years old. He made 11 3s in a game against Lithiuania last year. He’s 6-5, 190, which means he needs to eat a sandwich.

Brian D

June 25th, 2009
11:48 pm

Stiff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! why not pick josh heytvelt from gonzaga? A big man who can shoot.

Jhawk2002

June 25th, 2009
11:50 pm

Do you think the hawks second rounder, Sergiy Gladyr, will join the team immediately? Or will he be one of those players that plays a few more years overseas and them comes once he more NBA-ready? Do we have to pay his Ukrainian team anything?

Reid Adair

June 26th, 2009
12:02 am

I don’t understand the decision to go for another 1/2 guard instead of a true point guard. I had really hoped Lawson was going to be there – and then Minnesota took their third PG of the first round.

I personally would rather have had Eric Maynor. The selection of Teague leads me to believe that either Bibby or Murray is gone now.

I won’t even discuss the decision with the second-round pick.

Jhawk2002

June 26th, 2009
12:06 am

Don’t you find it kind of ironic that Utah and New Orleans draft PG’s again after our pick, albeit not as high as 2005. If there PG’s, Maynor and Collison turn out to be better than Teague, I will seriously shat a brick.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 26th, 2009
12:09 am

I let out a sigh of relief when the Hawks passed on Mullens. I think Teague is a good player, just not a good point guard. I don’t see him being a great fit in Woodson’s system. Maynor would have been a better pick in my opinion. But either Teague or Maynor will contribute quality minutes to their respective teams. Mullens won’t do so immediately, and it’s questionable whether he will at any point.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 26th, 2009
12:11 am

As far as the 2nd round pick, it’s irrelevant. I would have rather seen them trade the pick for cash to throw at Bibby. Sergey what’s-his-name will probably play about as many minutes for the Hawks as Cenk Akyol and David Andersen.

Overall, I’d give the draft a B-.

BosnianBaller

June 26th, 2009
12:37 am

Gladyr is staying in Ukraine.The bigger question is if we will ever see David Anderson in a Hawks uniform.I wish Sund could get him to give us some depth.I’m tired of Gardner and Hunter

Jeff Schultz

June 26th, 2009
12:48 am

Hawks2002 — the latter. He’s only 19. Won’t be here for a while.

Dr. Warren

June 26th, 2009
1:39 am

LAWSON was CLEARLY the best pick for the Hawks. He is what they have needed for years. Teague is not a pure quarterback-style point guard. Ah, Atlanta sports–the realm of the frustrated and disappointed…

TRC

June 26th, 2009
1:56 am

Kind of like the pick. What little I’ve seen of him, he appears to excel in transition. Which is where the Hawks need to be to win big games.

Matt the Brave

June 26th, 2009
2:02 am

Jeff, do you have a link for the Sekou article talking about Josh Childress? Also, is this pretty much a situation with the kid from the Ukraine staying in Europe like the other kid that we drafted who plays in Spain? (I know, so much detail, I’m sure you’ll know EXACTLY who I’m talking about…)

Johnny Hazeltine

June 26th, 2009
2:27 am

Teague is not a PG!

He’s an undersized shooting guard masquerading as a PG just like another guy the Hawks foolishly drafted, Acie Law!

And to pass on Patty Mills and Jack McClinton in the 2nd RND?

There’s a reason why certain teams are always at the top in the standings. Look at San Antonio’s draft. Look at Utah’s draft.

Sometimes, I wish I wasn’t a fan.

BrittishAnger

June 26th, 2009
3:44 am

I’m not certain this answers our long-term PG problems, though I like him as an understudy for Bibby as much as anybody else we could have taken (and we could have taken Beaubois like I wanted us to). I’m disapointed with our second round pick, just because we didn’t need a SG, and he’s undersized if they were thinking of using him to replace Marvin at SF, however I don’t think that’s the case anymore. While it was a huge gamble, I’m certain the support roles regarding this team are going to improve in free agency with us losing Solo and picking up Siler as an undrafted free agent. I think we’re going to try very hard to resign Bibby, take the loss of Flip Murray (and this destroying the Flip Mo Squad for now), and likely resign Zaza with the same contract he just had, maybe a year less guaranteed with a team option for the fourth. I’m not interested in losing Marvin yet, but there are going to be some good SF’s out there in the pool this summer, so I guess depending on who Sund and Woodson are looking to take might create an opportunity to grow there, though I think we could just end up keeping him. This only leaves our 11 and 12 spots, which I think we’ll end up keeping Mario West at the bargain price and find some final free agent big man, a veteran with some experience worth passing along to the other players, perhaps a Jason Collins or a Drew Gooden, mayhap a Mikki Moore. Without the last spots and the simple assumptions made, the A/B teams would look as such: Bibby/Teague, Johnson, Crawford, Williams/Evans, Smith/Siler, Horford/Pachulia. I can live with that, though I’m open to ideas of who to get in the place of Marvin Williams beyond Mr. Butler, I just don’t see that one happening without losing a few future draft picks…

BrittishAnger

June 26th, 2009
3:46 am

*….the loss of Flip Murray (and thus destroying….*

Will

June 26th, 2009
8:11 am

Anyone have the skinny on Garrett Siler? Are the hawks interested in a project big man? Is he interested in coming to the ATL?

Peter

June 26th, 2009
8:47 am

I would get rid of Bibby and keep Flip myself, he contributes way more than Bibby who can’t defend. We need size at the point, and I think Teague could guard the likes of Chris Paul.

Marvin is interesting because he has been improving, and perhaps he is getting stronger and will want to bang this year for a change ?

I do think the Hawks have upgraded Speedy was zero, and AC never was a player that amounted to anything.

I also believe Al will be better, as he seems to be the consummate Pro, a real hard working guy with the leadership qualities we need. Zaza has improved and he realizes his role. Solomon may come into his opwn this year and at times gave us good minutes.

I think Crawford will take allot of pressure off Joe, and as a older Pro will show others a good work ethic.

We will have three substantial scoring treats at Guard if we keep Flip, and all three are big and can take a man down low and create their own shot.

To me if the Hawks will continue to defend, this will be a fun team to watch !

Eric

June 26th, 2009
9:11 am

Now I am confused, who’s going to play the point??? To not sign Flip back would be taking a big step back. Woody’s already proved he doesn’t like playing young point guards so why draft a point at 19??? You still need another big body.

Max McGonigle

June 26th, 2009
9:16 am

Now that Hedo Turkoglu has opted out of his contract with the magic, why not sign him instead of Marvin.

BC

June 26th, 2009
9:18 am

Damn Minnesota, I almost choked when they picked their 3rd PG of the first round. Hopefully Teague steps his passing game up and we can fire Woodson and get a coach that can actually develop our young talent. Here’s some Teague dunks to get hawks fans excited
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTfwcYgNAN8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkDO3MoGDwQ

D-Bo

June 26th, 2009
9:23 am

In my opinion, BJ Mullins is the much higher risk here. While he has great measurables, he’s raw beyond belief and he had trouble getting playing time for Ohio State and when he did play, he was less than impressive in the Big Ten. Now I’m not saying he can’t and won’t be a good player but the bigger risk would have been Mullins. Teague already proved himself against the best competition in the nation AND then add in the fact he’s a freak of an athlete with loads of potential.

Jeff Schultz

June 26th, 2009
9:47 am

DR. WARREN — I like Lawson too. But it’s impossible to know who turns out to be a better pro. We’ll know soon enough.

MATT: Sorry, I don’t. It was in one of his blogs a couple of weeks back and I don’t think we archive those. In short, it’s not a slam dunk he comes back to the NBA this year, as everybody thought. Also, I get the feeling there’s some lingering bitterness between him and the organization, him and Sund, over the negotiations last year. So if/when he does come back to the NBA, I tend to doubt it will be in Atlanta — or let’s just say there’s a lot to get over. Besides, as much as he was slammed by some for his decision, the dude made some pretty great money over there and has a good life. I know it’s not the NBA, but it’s not exactly hell either.

WILL: I’m not sure how/why the whole let’s-draft-Siler thing got as big as it is. But if NBA GMs considered Mullens a project, what does that make Siler. Suppose he’s worth bringing in for a look though, since he didn’t get drafted.

ERIC: The plan is still to re-sign Bibby (as of now).

MAX: You have any idea what kind of money Hedo is going to make? Not happenin’.

D-BO: Spot on. If Mullens pans out, then he would’ve been a great pick. But there’s no question he’s a riskier pick than Teague.

Tech sucks

June 26th, 2009
10:13 am

Steve Lavin said he was the best point guard in the draft and had no idea how he fell that far. Said we got a complete steal.

Richard

June 26th, 2009
10:57 am

No one saw the H2H matchups of Lawson and Teague this year did they? Teague seemed to get the better of Lawson…something that few folks can claim. At least the Hawks drafted a guy who played PG in college to address their needs. And if Teague can get a season backing up Bibby, there is no telling how much it will help him develop his skills.

kerpal

June 26th, 2009
11:05 am

i like this pick because Jeff Teague is a great shooter and is good in transition and that is how the hawks play. I was going for Ty Lawson but Ty is not as good shooter as Teague. One thing I am concerned is his defense. This will be a problem because of the fact that we are a defensive team but I hope that he improves his defense as he grows. Also, who are we trading for a big man? I suggest getting Marcus Camby.